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Title: Degradation of Ultra-High Molar Mass Polymers in Size-Exclusion Chromatography

item STRIEGEL, ANDRE - Florida State University
item ISENBERG, SAMANTHA - Florida State University
item Cote, Gregory

Submitted to: Polymer Preprints
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/20/2009
Publication Date: 8/20/2009
Citation: Striegel, A.M., Isenberg, S.L., Cote, G.L. 2009. Degradation of ultra-high molar mass polymers in size-exclusion chromatography. Polymer Preprints. 50(2):183-184.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The degradation of high molar mass polymers during size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) analysis has been a topic of interest for several decades. Should a polymer degrade during analysis, the accuracy of the molar mass (M) and architectural information obtained will be compromised. To this effect, a number of studies have provided extensive qualitative circumstantial evidence of the degradation of ultra-high molar mass polymers in SEC columns. The evidence generally given is a change in the elution profile of the analyte toward larger elution volumes as a function of increasing flow rate, elution volume in SEC being inversely proportional to analyte size in solution. Not only is very little understood about the types of flow fields involved in the degradation, but there is even doubt about whether degradation is even occurring. In many cases, the latter might instead be an unrecognized manifestation of slalom chromatography occurring within the SEC column. Here, using SEC coupled to both static multi-angle light scattering and differential refractometry detectors, we show unambiguous evidence of the degradation of the ultra-high-M polysaccharide alternan in both aqueous and organic media. Furthermore, analysis of the degradation patterns of ultra-high-M polystyrene standards, by both SEC and ultrasonic methods, sheds light on the types of flow fields involved in the on-column degradation. These studies also show the different type of degradation that occur when the polymer has access to only the interstitial volume, versus when the polymer can also access the pores of the column packing.